Ah, the TSA. The agency entrusted with the important job of ensuring that every airline passenger in the U.S. makes it to their destination in one piece has announced a new contest: they'll give a cool $5,000 to the person with the best suggestion on how to improve the airport security line experience.
While the good people at Mashable had some pretty good ideas on improving the airport security experience (provide slippers, self-returning trays, etc.), here are a few other ideas to make the boarding process smoother.
1. Train all employees that the "District of Columbia" is a real place in the United States.
My colleague Matt Vespa wrote about the incredible story of TSA agents not understanding that the District of Columbia is a real place:
“At that point, I was a little confused, but then I realized what was going on,” he later told WFTV. “I said to him, ‘Do you not know what the District of Columbia is?’ After some back and forth, it became clear he didn’t.”
A better-educated stock of agents would likely improve waits.
2. Adjust the "ban" of liquids to something that makes sense.
Patrick Smith of Salon's "Ask the Pilot" column has reasonable gripes about the TSA's insane policy.
The three-ounce container and baggie policy is, to begin with, mostly a waste of time. For starters, experts have pointed out the extreme difficulty any saboteur would have in concocting the types of liquid explosives that the rules are meant to thwart. Then, explain the logic of why passengers cannot travel with a 10-ounce bottle of liquid, yet five or more three-ounce bottles is no problem. Contact lens solution, any size, that’s OK, too. And baby formula, however much you need. I never realized terrorists were that stupid.
This policy does not make anyone safer, and wastes time.
3. Don't submit low-risk passengers to extreme scrutiny.
The TSA's policy is to essentially treat all passengers equally. I think, however, we can agree that six-year-old girls or elderly women are not likely going to be terrorists. Smarter policies would save time and reduce these embarrassing headlines and bad press for the TSA.
Prospective entrants have until August 15 to submit ideas for the contest.